Consumer Participation

Consumer participation has been described as 'the active participation of people who, because they have used services or are potential service users, can bring their knowledge and experience to contribute to the design, planning, delivery and evaluation of services'.  (Voices on Choices: working towards consumer-led alcohol and drug treatment, Anglicare Tasmania, Social Action and Research Centre, July 2010.)

There are currently various levels of consumer participation activities and initiatives within the non government drug and alcohol sector.  Extensive work has been carried out in the area on a national level by the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) under the Treatment Service Users (TSU) Project to describe opportunities, experiences, activities and support for consumer participation in treatment services.  NADA has used the learnings from the TSU Project to inform its work in this important area.

At a state level, NADA has been working with the New South Wales Users & AIDS Association Inc (NUAA) to increase consumer participation practices in the non government drug and alcohol sector. NUAA is the peak drug user organisation in the state.

Service User Participation Scoping Report July 2011
NADA commissioned LMS Consulting to undertake the above scoping report.  The recommendations included in the report have been guiding NADAs work in the area.

Consumer Participation Forum Report July 2014
A report on forum held by in July 2014 in partnership with NUAA and The Lyndon Community. 

NADA has developed a Consumer Participation Audit Tool to assist in describing the level of participation currently occurring at your service. It will also help identify activities which create greater levels of consumer participation.  

NADA has also developed a Consumer Participation Consent Form to support organisations engage with consumers about the level of participation they are interested in. 

A consumer participation policy template is currently in development and will be available in version 2 of the NADA Policy Toolkit due for release in the coming months.

Also, check out the Consumer Participation of issue of the NADA Advocate (Sept 14).

Useful resources


A Guide to Consumer Participation in NSW Drug and Alcohol Services

This NSW Ministry of Health guide from 2005, provides a set of principles to assist staff in facilitating consumer access to drug and alcohol services in NSW.  The guide contains background information and guiding principles as well as information around planning for consumer participation and possible strategies that could be implemented. These guidelines are currently under review.


Treatment Service Users Project (TSU) Phase One Report

Treatment Service Users Project (TSU) Phase Two Final Report

Voices on choices: working towards consumer-led alcohol and drug treatment

Nothing About Us Without Us Report


Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL)

AIVL is the national peak organisation representing the state and territory drug user organisations and issues of national significance for people who use or have used illicit drugs.

New South Wales Users and AIDS Association Inc (NUAA)

NUAA advances the rights and dignity of people who use drugs illicitly in NSW.

Association of Participating Service Users (APSU)

The Association of Participating Service Users is a Victorian organisation which represents consumers of drug and alcohol services.

NSW Consumer Advisory Group Mental Health Inc (NSW CAG)

NSW CAG is a state wide organisation that provides an ongoing opportunity for mental health consumers to participate in policy and service development, implementation and evaluation.

Local and international resources

Straight from the Source: A Practical Guide to Consumer Participation in the Victorian Alcohol and Other Drug Sector.

The Peer Model Manual: The manual contains three modules - Peer Helper Training; Experts by Experience and Speakers Bureau. Each module addresses a specific way in which consumers can be involved in the sector.

Consumer Participation Resource Kit

The Consumer Participation Resource Kit from Victoria contains information on ways to engage with service users, to listen to their views and to develop strategies based on their advice with the aim of improving service provision. 

Consumer and Peer Roles in the Addiction Sector (NZ)

This document creates discussion around the roles and activities of the consumer and peer workforce in New Zealand.

Consumers Contribute to the Addiction Sector in More Ways Than One (NZ)

A factsheet to introduce the addiction sector, and other allied sectors, to existing and newly emerging consumer and peer roles within addiction treatment.

Involving Service Users Toolkit (UK)

Drug User Involvement in Treatment Decisions (UK)

This report discusses the involvement of drug users in making decisions about their treatment.